RFG 2018 Conference

water availability

Water Infrastructure Project Wins a top ASCE Civil Engineering Award #water

Photo taken from a helicopter of the Olivenhain Dam and reservoir near Escondido, CA. Photo by Phil Konstantin
San Diego county can rest a bit more easily should a major earthquake, or another disaster disrupt supply of water it imports. The 25 year project investing in San Diego's water infrastructure won the American Society of Civil Engineers' Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award.

Binational Study of the Transboundary San Pedro Aquifer

The United States and Mexico share waters in a number of hydrological basins and aquifers that cross the international boundary. Both countries recognize that, in a region of scarce water resources and expanding populations, a greater scientific understanding of these aquifer systems would be beneficial. In light of this, the Mexican and U.S. Principal Engineers of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) signed the “Joint Report of the Principal Engineers Regarding the Joint Cooperative Process United States-Mexico for the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program"" on August 19, 2009 (IBWC, 2009). This IBWC “Joint Report” serves as the framework for U.S.-Mexico coordination and dialogue to implement transboundary aquifer studies. The document clarifies several details about the program such as background, objectives, roles and responsibilities, funding, relevance of the international water treaties, communication, and the use of information collected or compiled as part of the program. Based on the aforementioned Joint Report, it was agreed by the parties involved, which included the IBWC, the Mexican National Water Commission (CONAGUA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Universities of Arizona and Sonora, to study two priority transboundary aquifers in the Arizona–Sonora region, the San Pedro River basin and the other in the Santa Cruz River basin.

This report focuses on the Binational San Pedro Basin (BSPB). Reasons for the focus on and interest in this aquifer include the fact that it is shared by the two countries, that the San Pedro River has an elevated ecological value because of the riparian ecosystem that it sustains, and that water resources are needed to sustain the river, existing communities, and continued development. This study describes the aquifer’s characteristics in its binational context; however, most of the scientific work has been undertaken for many years by each country without full knowledge of the conditions on the other side of the border. The general objective of this study is to use new and existing research to define the general hydrologic framework of the Binational San Pedro Aquifer (BSPA), to gather hydrogeological and other relevant data in preparation for future work such as an updated groundwater conceptual model and budget and to establish the basis for a binational numerical model. The specific objectives are as follows: Understand the current state of knowledge with respect to climate, geology, soils, land cover, land use, and hydrology of the aquifer in its binational context; Compile and create a database of scientific information from both countries; Identify data gaps and identify what data would be necessary to update, in a subsequent phase, the hydrologic model of the aquifer system, including surface- and groundwater interactions on a binational level.

Refining previous estimates of groundwater outflows from the Medina/Diversion Lake system, San Antonio area, Texas

In 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the San Antonio Water System, began a study to refine previously derived estimates of groundwater outflows from Medina and Diversion Lakes in south-central Texas near San Antonio. When full, Medina and Diversion Lakes (hereinafter referred to as the Medina/Diversion Lake system) (fig. 1) impound approximately 255,000 acre-feet and 2,555 acre-feet of water, respectively.

Most recharge to the Edwards aquifer occurs as seepage from streams as they cross the outcrop (recharge zone) of the aquifer (Slattery and Miller, 2017). Groundwater outflows from the Medina/Diversion Lake system have also long been recognized as a potentially important additional source of recharge. Puente (1978) published methods for estimating monthly and annual estimates of the potential recharge to the Edwards aquifer from the Medina/Diversion Lake system. During October 1995–September 1996, the USGS conducted a study to better define short-term rates of recharge and to reduce the error and uncertainty associated with estimates of monthly recharge from the Medina/Diversion Lake system (Lambert and others, 2000). As a followup to that study, Slattery and Miller (2017) published estimates of groundwater outflows from detailed water budgets for the Medina/Diversion Lake system during 1955–1964, 1995–1996, and 2001–2002. The water budgets were compiled for selected periods during which time the water-budget components were inferred to be relatively stable and the influence of precipitation, stormwater runoff, and changes in storage were presumably minimal. Linear regression analysis techniques were used by Slattery and Miller (2017) to assess the relation between the stage in Medina Lake and groundwater outflows from the Medina/Diversion Lake system.


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